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My Husband Is the Worst On Long Car Trips

My first thought when I saw Clay’s column about our drive to Destin was, am I going to be tyrant in this story? After reading I’m not sure if it was me or the children, but obviously Clay is portrayed in the role of oppressed peasant protagonist. Fair enough, considering it is his article he can have creative license to anything he puts his name on, however, there are many sides to a story and sometimes the tyrant isn’t so bad after all. Especially when her serfs are inattentive, laggard, and rebellious.

You may need to pull up Clay’s article as the following is a retort to many of the author’s claims.

1. Not Flying

A long drive with children is not fantastic. We can all agree. Flying, however, is not all that much easier when several children, one of who is an infant, are involved. It also is difficult when your husband does not book you a ticket on the plane. Last year, as he says, he forgot to check me in. This is not true. He actually forgot to even book me a seat. When I asked him to send me my confirmation so I could check myself in his answer was, “Don’t worry about it, I’m the A group.”

Additionally, we currently have three carseats, and while on vacation we would need a car that could accommodate this. If you have ever rented a car and asked for carseats before, you know they always screw it up. They don’t have rear facing ones for the infants, or they are expired, or they give you the seat but not the straps, or they forget them altogether, etc. etc. Carseat regulations now are crazy and always changing (according to the new ones, at my height and weight I should be in a booster seat.) I hate that it takes an extra fifteen minutes to go anywhere because I have to buckle three kids into their seats. But that is the way it is. Next year if the godforsaken carseat laws don’t change we may be down to one seat and one booster and then car rentals become an option again and we can fly.

Oh, and if my husband remembers to get a ticket on the plane for his wife.

2. Running

Okay, most of this part is true. There is no shade running on 30A and it is hot as Hades. A woman pushing a baby did pass us. Twice. I enjoy running, but I can’t brag about speed. Not that I want to amplify any more support for our protagonist, but Clay does not give himself enough credit here. Clay sounds like a freight train when he runs. Maybe a freight train that has run out of coal and is puttering on its last rails to the station. He is allergic to everything and can hardly breathe. I’m convinced if he could breathe better he would just love running. Love it!

(Regarding the Chafing – I did make a strong suggestion that he wear different underwear to run. TMI? Skivvies matter when it comes to chaffing. “No, I’m good,” famous last words.)

3. Packing

The baby was not in a bad mood as we prepared to drive home. But guess who was? The guy who was sitting around checking his phone while I packed every suitcase and loaded up the car.

Every time we have ever been on a long drive as a couple or a family, Clay acts as if he is doing us all a huge favor by driving the car. He starts brooding about it days before. As if operating a car were this incredibly complicated thing that took seven years of higher education to learn, and he is the only person in our family who has a Ph.D. in driving.

Maybe this view is why when it comes time to pack and load for a trip, he does nothing else. Nothing! We have been married for ten and half years. Do you know when was the last time Clay packed a full suitcase (not including his laptop and a pair of underwear to fly out for work?) Ten and half years ago! And it is possible that before then his mom did it for him. It honestly might be never.

Asking him to load the car is just a disaster. I would say this is a man thing, but my brother is a master at loading up the car. He just fit his stepson’s entire dorm room into a Mustang. We have an SUV, and if Clay loads the car he might manage to fit two suitcases and his newspaper in it. Plus he constantly asks me where things should go, then completely disregards my answer and puts all the bags in the backseat anyway. If your laborer can’t manage menial tasks and follow simple directions, the chief has to either take over, or get bossier and harder on the workforce.

My point in all this is that for every trip I do all the work EXCEPT the driving. I take the car for an oil change and tire rotation. I clean the car. I rearrange carseats (that fucking latch system I could shoot myself). I pack for five people. Five! I load the car. I get all the kids’ snacks and entertainment ready. I get all my husband’s snacks and drinks ready. I get all my own stuff ready. Then if I have time I take a shower and get dressed.

After all this, maybe I have earned one or two hours of relaxing in the car…

4. Driving

Most moms can relate. The second you get into a car for a family road trip it is demand after demand. “Where’s my drink? Where’s my snack? My headphones don’t work! He’s touching me!”

Our seven year old likes to set his timer on the iPad to how much longer there is on the drive. But then he shuts it off or resets it. So every 45 minutes he asks how much longer is left on the drive. Our four year old is trying to turn every topic into a discussion about getting the Ghostbuster firehouse toy. There is no relaxing.

Add to that a husband who, despite having owned this car for two years, has no idea how to work anything on the car. He may be worse than the children. “How do you adjust this seat? Where are the headlights? Can you find the game on the radio? It’s too hot in here. How do you make these windshield wipers go slower. Now faster. I need some caffeine. Did you bring me a Mountain Dew? Put Howard Stern on. Put some music on. Look up how much further it is to the exit. Look up how many miles it is to Miami from here. Look up what year Keri Russell was in the Mickey Mouse Club.” On and on. The other day before he left to take our kids to a movie he called me (yes on the phone) to come out to the car because he couldn’t get the air conditioning working.

It would probably just be easier if I drove. But then Clay would have to tend to the needs of the children, and, well, if you can’t work the AC you probably can’t open a juice box either.

Moreover, Clay won’t let me drive. It is true I may have hit a parking structure pillar one or nine times in the past, but I’m convinced this is not because I am a bad driver, but rather due to the fact that I am so short I can’t see to the front end of the car. Hmm, maybe that booster seat isn’t such a bad idea after all.

5. Planning

Yes, I’m a planner. One of has to be. Usually it starts a team effort the night before when my husband asks “what time do you think we should leave tomorrow?”

“We have to be out by 11, so probably then.”

“What about lunch? Want to eat here in town then get on the road?”

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

See, a good dictator can strategize with the people to come up with a solid plan. But then the next day, the people rebel.

Clay while sitting on the porch: “So I’m thinking we just get on the road and stop later for lunch. The kids are stir crazy and the baby is fussy. Let’s just get going.”

Me – in the midst of dressing children and carrying luggage to the car: “Here is my concern. We get going and you will not let us stop until after 2pm and by then everyone will be starving and the baby will probably be in the middle of a nap.”

“No way. Let’s just go a little ways then we’ll stop near the Florida-Alabama line.”

“I don’t like this idea. You do this every time and inevitably we end up having to scramble for a place to eat and everyone is miserable.”

“No. Trust me.”

So three hours later in the car the kids are fighting. They are fighting because they are starving. The baby is crying. Clay is in a bad mood. We are running out of gas. I’m kicking myself for not sticking to the plan.

6. Getting Gas

Why won’t men just pull over and get gas already!? We had a dozen opportunities to get gas during the 85 miles from Rosemary Beach to Opp, Alabama, but according to my husband “we were good.” And, “there are TONS of gas stations at the Florida – Alabama line.”

Fast forward to Florala – the bustling metropolis where I was told there would be TONS of gas stations and places to eat. We drive through what might be a town. One station. “We should probably stop there.” I say.

“No, trust me there are tons of gas stations at the state line.”

“Didn’t we just cross the state line? Isn’t this Florala?”

“Don’t argue with me. There are a bunch of places to stop. Your obsession with gas is unfounded.”

“Your complete denial of reality is unfounded. We are in bum-fuck Alabama. Look around. There is not a single place to stop for miles. We are going to run out of gas. Is that a cop?”

“Shit. That’s a cop. I’m going to get pulled over. Again.”

7. Getting a ticket

Have you seen the elementary schools in Opp and Andalusia, Alabama? They are unbelievable. Massive. Grandiose even. And probably all funded by people who get speeding tickets going through these towns. Or even other absurd made up traffic violations. A friend of mine got pulled over one year for not giving a full five car lengths between her and the car in front of her. While we ate at the Pizza Hut in Opp (we just beat the church lunch rush, thank God,) another satisfied patron told me he got a ticket last year for having his high beams on for too long when another car was approaching.

How about the fact that cops do not have to show you the radar to prove you were speeding? I looked up the law and it says that police offers can show you the radar as a courtesy if they want to, but usually they don’t because it requires the offender to get into the front seat of the police car. Really? And this seems to be the standard in most states. Aside from this absurd explanation, how do we have a law that basically allows police officers to just make up a speed and give you a ticket for it? A person should have the right, upon request, to always see the radar.

I am the first one to call Clay out for speeding or breaking any other rule while driving (And, yes, I won’t let him text while driving us. Even the latest crab-leg-mascot-dancing-tatooed- NCAA rule breaking story is not important enough to text while driving) but this time even I said, “you should bealright. That sign up ahead says 45 and you were not even going 44.”

After getting a citation for 55 in a 35, I said, “That’s bull. But we are definitely going to run out of gas.”

8. Our Savior

In the end, our protagonist got us all home safely. We made it to a gas station running on fumes. The kids did not die of starvation or kill each other on the ride. I never got to relax, but may have taught Clay how to use the windshield wipers on the car (okay, probably not). We took out a second mortgage to purchase a Ghostbusters Firehouse from some strange Internet nerds on eBay and are looking forward to next year’s trip to 30A with a new plan.

I’ll fly with the kids and Clay can drive the car by himself.  

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.